“Mise en place” means to have all your ingredients measured and laid out before you start cooking. It’s a great concept that also applies to preparing an individual blog post, and your entire online strategy.
You need to spend time planning and setting up your online presence in order for it to work for you, and then you need to maintain it with a predictable schedule of posts, and stay involved with your audience. At yesterday’s Blogging Boot Camp workshop at MEDB, Peter Liu and Jeff Bennett shared their expertise on how to do that. There were great additions and questions from attendees, including the “mise en place” concept from chef Susan Teton. This related to tips from Jeff about having all your blog post content ready before you start editing – text written, photos cropped and resized, URLs that you plan to link to handy, videos uploaded, etc. But in the bigger picture, it also relates to a key concept from Peter, that you need to set up your blog/website(s), Twitter, Facebook, and other sites or services so you can efficiently update and cross-link them without making a career of it. (Peter outlines a sample workflow in the image above, from http://kaiscapes.com/2011/08/15/social-media-presentation-for-uh-maui-college/.) That setup is the core of Peter’s consulting service, then it’s up to the individual to use it. This paragraph is my bare-bones summary of some key points from yesterday’s workshop. My raw notes are below. During the workshop, Tania Ginoza (@mauishopgirl) and Christina Meehan (@cmee) and others shared key ideas on Twitter with the #mauismug hash tag – see TweetChat.
If you were there, what were some key concepts for you?
Notes from Blogging Boot Camp, September 24, 2011
- Kim Haueisen – High Tech Maui program manager for MEDB
- Tania Ginoza – lifestyle blogger – @mauishopgirl.com – CPA/controller – plug holes & get ideas
- Dr. Douglas Price – instructor, webinars – WP site, figure out sidebar widgets for video & audio, testimonial
- Warren Haynes – fascinated w social networking, new at it
- Christina Meehan @cmee – mktg dir for startmeup sportfishing, freelance social media mktg for sml biz
- Eli Gawel – here 1 yr. figure out where this fits w what I’ll be when I grow up; I’m 62 yo now
- Jody Yoshida – MEDB, HTM – tweets for MEDB
- Karin Sagar – mktg consulting firm – trad mktg – gett
- David Randall – starting photog co – get jumpstart w blogging – psychologist day job
- Crystal DeZao – hula cookies & ice cream Maalaea & Lahaina – Mrs. Field-style cookies w/ a Hawaiian flavor, try to maintain website w developer. HulaCookies.com
- Steven Hill – photog & wedding biz & sites – use Blogger as platform – why is WP better? How to make WP like I want w/o writing code. Best plugins for SEO
- David Kern – Naturopathic physician ofc in Makawao & Kihei – being pushed to make info avail to wider audience
- Nori Clements – completing Life Coaching cert – don’t use FB, blog, Twitter very well –
- Nancy Newnan – hot & glassy.com adv agency. Have WP accts, need focus Catapult Communications catapultcom.com
- Jim Nakama – forming new co, dev’g product & process, planning to introduce in 2012, starting to create web presence
- Susan Teton – Essential Cuisine cooking shows & healthy eating, sell DVDs online, good following, still not very good at this
- Me – Karen Bennett
- Jeff Bennett
- Peter Liu
PL: “I can teach you guitar all day long, but if you don’t go off & practice, you won’t get any better.”
PL: Following outline; people get more out of real live demos than a static slide.
PL: Why should I use social media / blog? Put it in form it can be easily shared, RSS, where people can engage w it and start conversations w it. Website = blog; blog = website. 1990s website was static html; usu hired someone else to do it. “Build it and they will come” philosophy…didn’t really happen. SEO, so they found you, will they come back? Do they have a reason to come back? Use blogging tech to get your msg out to have constant stream of info going out that’s compelling that brings people back. Website has become content base for your SM strategy. Content is conversation starters for SM networks. Modern web is 80% engagement (not content). We’re back to word of mouth; if you want my biz then you have to engage w me. Show me you know your stuff. Show yourself as an authority. Needs to be transparent enuf so people believe you, has to be authentic. 50% of world pop is under 30 and 90% have joined a social network. His (~18yo?) nephew doesn’t do email unless mom makes him. If you’re going to market to him it won’t be by email or newspaper or TV. He texts, uses FB; & that’s what his friends do. Benefit: you’ll still have a biz in 5-10 years!
Jim N: it’s a transition, like from radio to TV.
PL: no, it’s more like 100 yrs ago, word-of-mouth. Then mass media came along & we got away w broadcasting, monologue style. Then comm changed, the web became a way people could connect w each other. Traditional mktg – announcements – is like walking into a cocktail party w a billboard on. … This is the new email.
David Q, “conversation:” blog, or responding? A: yes. You have to watch this (Twitter stream) and be ready to reply. [Jody’s photo of PL, shared on Twitter/Yfrog] Getting SM to work for you means 90% setup. The core of my practice as a consultant is getting people set up. After that it’s content. [Autoposted photo to blog – coming up later in workshop]
Dos & don’ts. Rule of thumb: You’ve got human beings at the other end of it, treat it like real life. Talk online like you’d talk to people in real life, & don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life. Your brand is at stake here. You’re selling yourself; people get interested in what you do cuz they get interested in you. Spread the aloha – promote someone else 10x as much as you promote yourself, goes to bldg community.
Downside: everybody’s posting, we don’t read it all, we’re all ADD. My dad made me take a speed-reading course when I was 16, I still don’t read everything. Put important stuff above the fold. Lead with a graphic. Traditional rules of journalism!
Crystal Q re: Respond to comments – what’s the response time? A: work w/in expectations of company and w/in parameters of what makes your readers/customers happy/satisfied (w/in limitations). Set expectations – I don’t pick up the phone after 11 – even after 8! Once you set a rhythm, stick to it or people will be disappointed – ex weekly TV show. A good way to get people to comment is to ask Qs. State your case; impart what you want to impart; then ask a Q.
Q, Blog sw options, why WP better than Blogger? A: Looks more professional, gives you more options. Huge community who can help you w WP. JB: I’ve been recommending WP to people I work with for the last year or two.
Host your own vs free blogging svcs (Blogger, WP.com). How much maint & admin are you willing to do? Self hosted: more flexibility, but more work for you. Q re naming mysite.wordpress.com – can buy your own domain if hosted on wordpress? A: yes. PL: if you want full control over your branding you should self-host. PL: if free hosting svc, you don’t have a “throat to choke”. JB but Automattic does a great job of keeping people informed if something goes down. Q if you use WP.com (I use 1&1), isn’t there a way you can occasionally backup your content? A: yes, you can do an export in either version. VaultPress.com $15/month for basic coverage. Q. Shopping cart on WP.com? A. No, it’s non-commercial, and you need plugins, so need wp.org. Jim N: anyone can provide infrastructure; only I can create my content.
JB: non-technical aspects of blogging – workflow. Process of writing and posting, get into a rhythm so it becomes second nature to you. Write your text OUTSIDE of the blogging software. (minimize # records in your DB for that blog post – minimizes size of DB in case you need to re-import). Then paste into WP, and insert photos & videos. PL: Jeff’s using Google docs, there’s a good reason for it, it’s in the cloud, not trapped in a particular computer. Sit down sometime and brainstorm some blog topic ideas. Link a lot; have the page open in a browser window so it’s handy. Susan T: Like “mise en place” in cooking. Photos can be cropped or resized in WP but it’s better to do it outside. Good size: ~800/1024/1200px. iPad is 1024×768. Always keep your audience in mind. Where? Photoshop, Picnik.com. Have the photos handy too, like on your desktop. Change the filename to something meaningful instead of camera’s automatic name. Other photo apps: iPhoto, PS Elements, Gimp. Flickr > Advanced Search > Only search within Creative Commons Content – but read the license! You might need to link back or give credit. Take your own pictures, that way you have the copyright, you all have a camera now on your phone.
Inserting a photo in WP post: alt text is for sight-impaired, screen reader. Also fill in caption; the more you fill in the better for SEO.
PL: Photoblogging. SmugMug to sell photos; has good print service associated. Flickr is strictly non-commercial, but “everyone” is there – commercial scouts, government, Getty Images… “Copyright Jack” expert on copyright. Be VERY CAREFUL about uploading photos to FB; they can use ‘em any way they want. PL puts on FB only if a) he doesn’t care or b) it’s bait. If I want to get a photo found, I put it on Flickr. I will never have as many eyeballs on my blog as on Flickr. But then link to your blog. FB changes are being announced right now at F8 conference and rolled out immediately. FB: “Treat it like a wave and ride it.” SmugMug gets embedded on my blog. WP doesn’t have a good way to bulk upload. Picasa doesn’t have the same kind of traffic as Flickr, and it has storage limits (only 2 GB free).
Photography for blogging – possible workshop.
Use SM conversation sites to drive visitors to blog, don’t let the conversation take place solely on SM site.
JB: Video is a huge draw for people and search engines. Get 10x traffic. Use YouTube, for same reasons PL uses Flickr. Copy Embed code from YouTube; paste it into the HTML tab of your post. Or, if you embed a lot of videos, use Viper’s Video QuickTags plugin, install and activate it. A new YouTube button will be in your visual editor window and you can use the URL. Tania: Or just paste the short link in the visual editor window and it “just works”!
PL: Organizing, categorizing, tags, sticky posts, featured posts, etc. You can build a whole site based on blog posts, ex warzonewear.com is built on categories. New products show up in appropriate categories. Kathy B used this principle on mauischoolgardennetwork.org. It uses a StudioPress theme, Serenity.
PL: tags. SEO workshop here October 11 AM or PM. Tags as SEO terms, check on Google Adwords and try to find something with a lot of searches but low competition. Think about them before writing the post, and use the words within the post.
JB: What to blog about and how to come up with ideas. Who’s your audience/readers/market/customers? Where do they hang out? (Other blogs, websites, forums, FB groups). Go there, lurk, find out the words they use – those are your keywords, use those terms in your blog posts.
PL: NetworkedBlogs.com – send posts to FB, Twitter.
Q RSS, relation to blog, why we’re using it – A blog has a feed that lets it be seen w/o actually going to the blog. Blogs come w it by default, so you can use it to your advantage – in a reader, or a service like this. This can be a way to track who’s reading your blog. Who’s actually visiting the site, and who’s consuming it via RSS feed? Both #s are important.
Google Analytics – get a Gmail address even if you don’t use Gmail itself cuz it’s your account for the cloud – docs, analytics, Feedburner, … JB: GA underreports by about ½ vs server’s stats.
PL: some things I know about SEO. The search engines need to find your site in the first place – index your site. You can help it by paying close attn to “the triplet”: titles, descriptions, & tags. On EVERYTHING – pix, videos, everything. It’s a pain, but it’s important. Think about “the 180 rule”: what it means to someone else. [PL’s theme on PeterLiu47.com is Genesis, which is SEO optimized and has SEO fields.]
SEO workshop coming up, see WeveCreatedAMonster.com for a preview.
Try to get other people to link back to you. Every tweet is a link!
Autoposting. First thing to know: it’s totally unreliable. Sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it won’t. Each service has its own rules & regs about how it’s done (API).
Q: But why do this (post photo of the lunch food)? Answers: people think it’s cool; people relate to it; it’s like small talk. Recipes is #2 search term after porn. It’s part of branding, telling people who you are and what you do. PL: I have 3 sites, one for SM, one for photography, one for just me anything.
Step 1. Posterous.com It’s a blog all in itself. What’s unique about it is it’s designed for people who like email, who don’t like the back end of websites. Type blog post in an email & attach any photos, send it to a specific address, and it posts as a blog post in posterous. From here, it can be set up to autopost to many other services – WP, FB, Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, Picasa, etc. Why use this? Cuz I’m at the Ag Fest and I’ve only got my phone. Can set up multiple people to send to a single acct so I don’t have to be at every event. (Set up their emails in posterous) Contributors. Step 2: pic wound up in the blog. Subject line matters; think of where it’ll go (he used #mauismug hashtag in the title cuz he knew Twitter would be one of the destinations). [See TweetChat.com #mauismug]
He uses NetworkedBlogs.com to broadcast more broadly. He doesn’t autopost his photo or SM blogs.
Jim N: Comments on Google/Google Plus? Plus.google.com. Google Plus makes it easy to create specific groups – drag a person to a circle; share things w a certain group. Easier to manage than FB lists. No limit on # of characters in a message. Nice interface for photos too (stored on Picasa) AND you’re on Google, which is a good thing. Adding Plus1 button may also help – ShareThis plugin includes it now. So far it’s just for personal accounts, not businesses.
Google Hangout: video chat. W one individual, or a circle. Easiest video chat he’s ever seen.
Google+ is a service; Google is an account. Account settings and profile settings are separate things. If you had a Google Profile before, it will transfer over to your Google Plus.
PL: Blogging resources that you should know.
ProBlogger.net – a blog abnout blogging. Darrin Rose. If you’re serious about blogging you should check it out. There’s a series, 31 days to build a better blog.
Social bookmarking – delicious, stumbleupon, digg. Delicious.com/peterliu47/31dbbb CommonCraft.com video: Social Bookmarking in Plain English
PL: Blogging from the other side – a consumer of blogs. Browse; tag into Delicious; share link to your delicious tags; shows others that you’re staying current in your field and gives them something of value. Google Reader organizes his feeds. Feedly.com puts the same stuff into a magazine format (install it in your browser).
If you’re really into SM, you should read Mashable.com.
Q: How is this diff from Paper
ly.li? A: Paper ly.li is all about Twitter, not RSS feeds. Paper.li It’s relatively new. PL has created various lists in Twitter. Paper.li grabs stuff people in that list linked to, and makes a magazine format page out of it. This is another way he consumes blogs. Ex: Peter Liu’s #Hawaii Daily. Can set it up to automatically tweet (daily, weekly, etc.) You’re consuming it, and offering it to your friends for them to consume too.
180 rule – you want to be in somebody’s list, like this! Make your site elegant, pretty, but not overly so. People won’t come back to it that often, they may be seeing it like this (excerpt on Paper.li or RSS feed), may only read headline and possibly scan the first paragraph. (he sees only 2 lines of the first paragraph of the post – that’s where you need to reel ‘em in!)
The blog is your content base. Have conversations on FB & Twitter, but your blog is a place where you can keep things. It’s more far-reaching than just driving traffic to your site. You want to get little bits of your site out there & getting shared. “Going viral” = people making copies of your content and spreading it. All the content people are sharing originated in blog posts. This is the heart of SM. The blog is ground zero, where everything starts.
Hosting companies to avoid: 1&1, GoDaddy, networksolutions.com